Notes, Thoughts, and Ideas.

Worth the Cost of Postage: The Man Who Mailed Everything

Reginald Bray posing in the middle, with two postal workers.

Most will not discount the idea that the ultimate prankster in history was W. Reginald Bray (1879-1939), the man who inspired the book The Man Who Posted Himself and who toyed with the Postal Service by mailing whatever he hypothesized was physically possible to send through mail.

"To a Resident nearest to this rock."

“To a Resident nearest to this rock.”

A relevant note: during this time period, the recipient paid the costs for their mail, thus reducing the costs of Bray’s strange hobby and probably annoying the postal workers when Bray’s strange addresses could not reach their destinations.

Who knows what inspired Bray to start his mass pranking of the postal service, but what we do know is that he was the master of this peculiar hobby.

The Postal Service could allegedly send anything from the size of a bee to an elephant, and Bray tested the postal limits, if not in size then in shape. He mailed such peculiar things as a bowler hat, a rabbit skull, a slipper, seaweed, shirt collars, a penny, a turnip (with the address carved in), a postcard crocheted by his mother, and even his own live dog, an Irish Terrier, who arrived at his destination disgruntled but in one piece.

A crocheted envelope with sewed-on stamps.

A crocheted envelope with sewed-on stamps.

Bray also mailed postcards to creative addresses that probably drove the mailmen crazy. These included postcards addressed to empty caves, addresses with only latitude and longitude, and addresses with only a picture of the destination.

But Bray’s crowning achievement was when he successfully mailed himself. He stuck a stamp on his forehead, gave himself an address to be sent to, and showed up at the Post Office. While one might imagine him packing himself up in a box and crouching uncomfortably until he reached his destination, it was probably much simpler than that. Bray lived close to a Postmen’s Office, so he probably walked in and requested that a mailman walk him back home. Still, the stunt got him a radio interview.

Here, Bray is being delivered to his doorstep, where his father patiently receives the receipt for his son's delivery.

Here, Bray is being delivered to his doorstep, where his father patiently receives the receipt for his son’s delivery.

Bray also claimed himself as the “Autograph King,” collecting signatures of famous people by mailing them cards with the request that they sign and return them. He sent over 30,000 requests, half of which did not return, to Bray’s chagrin. This included Adolf Hitler, whose office, after receiving several of these postcards, replied with the request that Bray would “refrain from further letters in this regard”.

Bray’s successful collected signatures included such characters as Gary Cooper, Laurence Olivier, and Charlie Chaplin.

Bray really tested the postal service’s limits, and he got further than most probably even dared to try.

What must have then caused the anger of the Postal Service is today our lighthearted entertainment (sorry, Postal Service).

We’d love to know: If you dared to mail a peculiar object, what would you choose to send?

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